Most CRM vendors will tell you they gained the inspiration -- and incentive -- to add in more features, enhancements, and functionality from the dialogues they have with clients. Not nearly as many could truthfully claim they'd adapted their products with lessons learned from their own business operations. Santa Clara, Calif.-based virtual call center company LiveOps, however, credits prior experience with its own outsourcing business -- and yes, some client feedback -- as the primary driver for its latest release, Summer 08 On-Demand Call Center Platform, now generally available.
Drew Kraus, research vice president of enterprise communications applications at Gartner, says that "the bottom line" regarding this latest LiveOps release is that the vendor is using the technology for its own business. "What LiveOps is doing is taking the expertise it has developed in operating and optimizing its own services, and extending those capabilities to its hosted clients," he says, adding that it's akin to the company saying, "Let’s take what we do operationally, infuse it in our product, and make it so it’s something a hosted client would want."
Speaking to the experience and knowledge gained from LiveOps' network of 20,000 home agents, Sanjay Popli, the company's vice president of strategy and business development, agrees with Kraus’ assessment, pointing to one of the new features now available with the Summer 08 platform. "The proof point here is the readiness assessment training tool," he says. "We found pain points ourselves in how we make sure people we bring on are worthy, as we take only a small portion of the 3,000 to 4,000 applications we receive per week. So we put a tool in place to make sure people had the right certifications, attitude, personality, and [all the other qualities needed for servicing] real, live callers."
Besides the readiness assessment testing, the other new features in LiveOps’ Summer 08 platform include:
According to Kraus, the monitoring capabilities are what clients will look to utilize first before going into the more "differentiable features" such as the readiness assessment testing, universal search, and telephony simulator. Recording, he says, "is just increasingly important to a lot of contact centers. We first saw silent monitoring and contact recording taking off in the financial services market, but now it's becoming a very commonly adopted capability." Once clients have adopted the recording and monitoring functions, Kraus says they will then move on to LiveOps' other new features.
- customized real-time monitoring, which can be housed on dashboards capturing data from other systems or applications to offer a more "comprehensive view of [contact] center optimization and activity," according to Popli, who adds that this new functionality came in response to client request;
- silent monitor, allowing contact center supervisors to have real-time oversight of agent calls, no matter where the representative is based;
- call center universal search; and
- telephony simulator.
Another key benefit, according to Kraus, is one shared by many on-demand solution vendors: the fact that LiveOps adds functionality every season, like clockwork. "If you’re managing a contact center, you don’t want to have to constantly be altering your business processes because some new technology has been made available," he explains. "It's helpful to be able to anticipate and schedule for [new versions]."
Popli agrees, saying that it's a prime virtue of the on-demand model. "Customers have been [tuned in] to the fact that the delivery model allows for [regularly scheduled enhancements] -- so they’re ready for it, which eases our job," he adds.
Looking at the hosted contact center market as a whole, Kraus maintains that "adoption is still in its infancy." That said, he explains that LiveOps has a quality offering -- and the fact that it's not just a solutions provider but also an everyday user of its own product only helps its case. "LiveOps continues to differentiate and provide the packaged-type capabilities -- as in this release -- that helps set itself apart from those offering either low-level generic services or those that are trying to do something highly customized based on some third party’s infrastructure," he concludes.